Dodging walruses for charity

June 2014 saw the Madswimmers, six South African businessmen, challenging themselves and facing water temperatures around 3 degrees Celsius, crossing the Bering Strait in Speedos (and tekkies).


The six pioneers, Jean Craven, Duncan Kukard, Marius de la Rey, Milton Brest, Hardi Wilkins and Ryan Stramrood, fought a Cold War of their own, swimming across the icy strait between the USA and Russia. Riveting stuff.This proudly South African venture is a testimony to what can be accomplished if you do what you can, with what you have, as hard as you can, for as long as it takes.

Through their heroic efforts Madswimmers raised funds for 11 South African children’s charities. Their conquest of the Bering Strait marks the sixth and final stage of their already impressive list of intercontinental open-water crossings.

These six ordinary family men might not stand out in a crowd. Their natural modesty prevents them from drawing attention to their own achievements. They do not own capes or dive from skyscrapers to save the world. Rather, their supernatural capabilities show in their willingness to train endlessly in conditions such as a Johannesburg swimming pool into which 2 tons of ice had been deposited. Waking up long before the crack of dawn every winter’s morning to train for hours, in water temperatures far below 10 degrees Celsius, might seem like madness. Their madness, however, is the method by which they draw attention to their worthy cause.This intense team effort and considerable personal sacrifice had a praiseworthy humanitarian outcome in the end.

What started off as a late winter night’s bet in a chalet on French mountain slopes in 2009 celebrated a successful ending six years later.

Through this endeavor the swimmers managed to raise an incredible $114 000 USD for 11 children’s charities. One of the Madswimmers, Hardi Wilkins, commented after the swim, “we did it and it was no small feat! Facing radical weather, training and fund raising, it was all worth it in the end.”

In this case, to help those who need it the most: the following charities benefited directly from this initiative:

– Hospivision

– Hope through Action

– Jan Hofmeyer

– Bram Fischer Trust

– The Children’s Hospital Trust

– FoodBank South Africa

– Miles for Mercia

– ORT SA Cape

– SAVF welfare services

– SEAL Open Water Swimming Trust

– WACDT (The Waenhuiskrans/Arniston Community Development Trust)

Jean Craven, the founder of confirmed that the charity account is still open for donations. For more information, click on the ‘contact’ link on the front page of this webpage.

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